Why Tyler Zeller should be getting fed the ball more often in Game 3
Never once thought I'd be saying this during a playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but it's time to start getting Tyler Zeller the rock more often. Through two games in this first round playoff series, he's 8-for-13 from the field with 17 points. There are points to be had in the paint against the Cavaliers, and the Celtics simply aren't exploiting it enough.
Amazing how aggressive Zeller has been. Every time, he just tries to attack Mozgov and get easy buckets.
Aside from Timofey Mozgov, the Cavs are as soft as a marshmallow in the post. Kevin Love has been a ghost on the floor most of this series, and is making Celtics fans glad he never put on a green & white uniform. But if the Celtics don't attack the rim and just settle for jump shots all game, it doesn't matter that Mozgov is the Cavs' only defensive threat in the post, they're still going to win.
The Celtics have got to put the focus on getting to the rim and playing into contact. Get Mozgov in foul trouble, and the Cavs are in trouble.
Is Mozgov intimidating? Crowder laughs. "No. Nobody on their team is intimidating."
When the Celtics do attack, they benefit from Love playing the role of a statue, and usually Mozgov will help out on any penetration into the paint, leaving his man wide open with little space separating him from the rim.
Another thing I'd like to see more of is Kelly Olynyk in the post and getting fed the ball. Olynyk is one of the only Celtics players to have a +/- in the positive for the series. (+4) Get the big men the ball and force Cleveland to adjust. When they do, that's when you let the jumpers fly from outside.
Boston simply hasn't gone to the game plan of dumping it down enough. At the very start of Game 2 they seemed to be on a mission to feed the ball down low to Zeller or Brandon Bass to get things started from the inside and work the paint.
Some of the entry passes were a bit sloppy, and Mozgov had a few big shot blocks, but I thought this style of play put Cleveland on their heels and seemed to be creating some good looks. The Celtics need that right now, or they'll never keep up with this potent Cavs offense.
Celtics have ratcheted up physical nature..Cavs must repond
The Celtics hardly have any consistent 3-point shooters on the team, killing the floor spacing, yet they seemingly abandon the post game when it's one of the few elements that opens up good looks for them outside.
They need to hit threes to be able to take one of these games from the Cavs, and if they don't dump the ball down low and work the inside-out game, guys like Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley are going to be smothered as soon as they get the ball on the perimeter.
Here is an example of how the inside-out game works:
The Celtics shot just 6-of-22 (27%) from downtown in Game 2, and shot 9-of-24 (38%) on 2-point field goals taken outside of the paint. Inside the colored area they shot 18-for-39 (46%).
Take it back to Game 1, the Celtics shot the ball much better, but the shot chart results were similar. 8-of-22 (36%) from long range, 9-of-21 (43%) on 2-pointers outside the paint, and 20-for-36 (55%) on shots inside the paint.
Bit of a head scratcher for me that Zeller played just 15 minutes in Game 1. I really feel like Stevens needs to shorten up the rotation a bit. But overall, I just think he needs to tell the front court guys to stop settling for 18 footers and to live and die in the paint.
The fact our big men are always floating around the 3-point line isn't helping the offensive rebounding situation either. They've got to get Zeller, Bass, Olynyk and Jared Sullinger thinking inside first, and those guys need to be ready for contact, because it is definitely going to come.
In the huddle, #Celtics Coach Brad Stevens tells his guys "We're the more physical team...keep going"
In Game 3 in Boston, I'd like to see the Celts come out just as they did at the beginning of Game 2 and force the issue down low. Bang on Kevin Love, tell Bass to get all up in his grill until he cracks. Get Zeller to keep attacking Mozgov with upfakes and short hooks. Tell Sully if he shoots another 3-pointer with a defender within 5 feet of him that his meals will be vegetarian only.
Just do whatever it takes to get these guys confident and ready to set the tone on the inside. Because they need to, or Boston is going to be shooting contested 3-pointers and mid-range jump shots for the remainder of this series.